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Sixers at Raptors: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

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Sixers at Raptors: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

It’s been over five years since the Sixers have won a game against the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.

On top of that, Kawhi Leonard is a perfect 11-0 against the Sixers, averaging 15.6 points (49.6 percent shooting) and 7.7 rebounds.

Here are the essentials for tonight's game:

When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Scotiabank Arena
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch for tonight’s matchup.

Royalty of the East

The Raptors (20-5) sit atop the Eastern Conference with the best record in the NBA, having lost just five games this season. Their field goal percentage (49.2) is second only to Golden State, and they average 116.6 points. Their first matchup on Oct. 30 was an indicator that the Raptors were well above the Sixers, but it was also against a team that hadn’t yet acquired Jimmy Butler.

Brett Brown joked that he had "selective amnesia" when it came to remembering their last game against Toronto, but said this one will be an "early barometer" of where they are as a team.

More for JoJo

Despite putting up MVP numbers to start the season, Embiid said the past few games he hasn’t felt like he’s been aggressive enough, and hopes that will change in Toronto. He also pointed to his shooting percentage going down, which it has, but not drastically. He’s shot 41.3 percent over his last three games, about six percent down from his career average (His three-point numbers over the past three games are a different story at 12.5 percent).

Embiid also said he’s still figuring out the new floor spacing with Butler. With the energy expected to be pumping in Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night, this could be one of those games Embiid gets up for.

Headbands? Bets?

Will the headbands follow Butler and Ben Simmons on the road? And if they do, will they be white? Furthermore, what type of bet will they make before tonight’s game? Last game, Butler and Simmons made bets on who would have more blocks and steals — Simmons won with two. Butler said he would discuss on the plane with Simmons what they might wager against the Raptors.

Bets and headbands, it might sound silly, but it’s clearly working for these two.

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Joel Embiid listed as doubtful for Sixers-Nets Game 4

Joel Embiid listed as doubtful for Sixers-Nets Game 4

Joel Embiid is listed as doubtful with left knee soreness on the NBA’s official injury report for Game 4 of the Sixers’ first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.

He missed Game 3 in Brooklyn, a 131-115 Sixers’ win. About an hour before tip-off, Embiid discussed his knee pain, which he described as "tendinitis," saying he feels he’s getting better “slowly but surely" (see story). 

That said, it sounds like Embiid’s progress is non-linear and difficult for him to predict.

“At the end of the day, what cures it is just loading,” he said. “You gotta load in the right way. Can’t do too much and then also can’t sit out and do nothing. It’s hard to manage, but gotta do it. Gotta push through the pain and see where it goes.”

Embiid began practice Friday by firing a few three-pointers in his slippers.

He then laced up his sneakers and went through an individualized workout.

Brown said early Friday afternoon that his holistic “gut feel” Thursday was that Embiid would not play. He said he didn’t yet have a sense for Embiid’s Game 4 availability. 

Though the Sixers’ athlete care team is closely monitoring Embiid’s “loading,” all the factors behind the decision of whether he plays remain nebulous. Brett Brown has characterized that choice as being dictated both by how Embiid feels and the recommendation of the medical staff.

The center tandem of Greg Monroe and Boban Marjanovic combined for 23 points and 21 rebounds Thursday night. Marjanovic has been impressive in this series and quite possibly the Sixers’ most consistent player (see story). 

While he’s officially doubtful, it’s still very possible Embiid plays in Game 4. He went from being doubtful for Game 1 to playing and posting 22 points and 15 rebounds in the Sixers’ 111-102 loss.

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Boban Marjanovic's size is impossible to ignore, but he's more than a novelty

Boban Marjanovic's size is impossible to ignore, but he's more than a novelty

Boban Marjanovic sometimes seems like a walking punch line. Not in a mean-spirited way, mind you — he’s far too charismatic to be teased, and far too good-natured to mind if he was. But the simple reality that he is probably the largest human being you will ever encounter is impossible to ignore. 

While his size remains his most important attribute as a player, Marjanovic has shown through the first three games of the Sixers’ first-round playoff series against the Nets that he is no joke.

He’s averaged 14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in just 17.3 minutes per game this series. Thursday night in Brooklyn, he posted 14 points, made all eight of his foul shots during the Sixers' 131-115 win, and was so vital that Brett Brown inserted him into the game with five fouls and just under nine minutes to play.

It was a reasonable choice, too, given how much better the Sixers were playing with Marjanovic on the floor than Greg Monroe. Marjanovic, who fouled out with 7:05 left on a suspect offensive foul call, was a plus-18, while Monroe was a minus-9.  

The Nets haven’t had much success drawing Marjanovic away from the rim and exposing his lack of foot speed. He’s generally dropped deep in pick-and-roll coverage, giving the Sixers’ perimeter defenders time to recover when they fall a step behind, and he’s even survived on one or two switches against guards like D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert.

“I’m pretty tall, you know,” Marjanovic told reporters, an understatement. “The effect is my size. Sometimes just to be there, my size helps me to protect the basket. We work on that, we prepare for that … we must stick to the plan.”

Brooklyn has shot a combined 5 for 13 against Marjanovic in Games 2 and 3, per NBA.com/Stats. The unlikely duo of Marjanovic and Monroe is not in Joel Embiid’s league defensively, but the idea of Marjanovic helping to hold down the fort if Embiid misses Game 4 shouldn’t be terrifying to the Sixers.

Marjanovic, though an historically efficient player, might eventually regress in these playoffs.

Monroe’s comment that Marjanovic “hasn’t missed from midrange since I’ve been here” is not a massive exaggeration. The odds are his jumper will cool off a little, and some of the shots the Nets are missing around the rim will start dropping.

In that event, Brown likes Mike Scott as a small-ball five contingency plan, as he showed Thursday. It appears rookie Jonah Bolden and Amir Johnson will not play significant playoff roles — although we would have said the same thing about Monroe a week or two ago.

For the time being, Brown can rely on Marjanovic. As Embiid’s absence highlighted, the 7-foot-3 Serbian — always eager to praise his teammates — is more than a mere novelty.

“We need to hold each other,” Marjanovic said. “Sometimes this happens — [Embiid] can be out or somebody else. We’re here together and we helped each other to get this win and play the game better and better.” 

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